In One Word, What's Your Intention?Sep 18, 2022
Two weeks ago I was meeting with a yoga studio owner in Hollywood to discuss buying their studio. I think I asked him what the feeling was for his customers when they entered the space. I don't remember exactly what he said but it jogged my memory that for the yoga studio I had owned in New York for a few years, the Yes Studio, what I wanted people to feel immediately upon entering the space was "acceptance."
There were and are so many yoga studios or fitness studios more generally where you walk in and feel judged, unwelcome, like you have to fit a certain mold to fit in there. Fitness studios of any kind are a uniquely vulnerable place to start off with before incorporating any exclusive atmosphere. People are going there because they have some ideal version of their body that they want to achieve and maybe just the act of walking through the door was a feat. The tiniest discouragement could mean the difference for them achieving their goal or walking right back out that door. When developing a brand, it's important to know how sensitive and subconscious your affect on your customer can be.
From the moment we started building the Yes Studio brand my partner and I agreed that the feeling we wanted when people walked in the door was acceptance. Something that felt like "home." You'd be surprised how clearly that translated to our members. Check out some of the reviews we got below:
Devi Mambouka - "The first time I walked in I was welcomed with such warmth and love!! This place is a great addition to the community. Each class starts and ends with a meditation which I absolutely love, practicing mindfully and caringly is what each teacher is focused on! I love you guys "
Stephen Mendoza-Williams - "I it here! Home away from ......"
Jewel K - "I love YES Studio. The vibe is unpretentious while remaining professional, and they have a great variety of classes and instructors. I'm also really glad to see a diverse yoga studio, where people of different races, body types, and experience levels are clearly welcomed and included in all classes. I highly recommend attending a class here! There is even a sweet hangout/study space if you want to stay longer."
Reviews like this, and students coming up to us sharing the same type of sentiment, were clear evidence that our intention was being felt exactly as we had imagined it. It was really surprising and exciting. It made me realize how important this is for every single business out there whether the "space" is virtual or physical. It's so important to be aware of how your customers feel when they first interact with you/your brand and to determine if that is in alignment with what you intend.
Narrowing it down to a single word helps you to focus. When you're brainstorming and you have multiple words, that's great, but if you are executing on all of those words at the same time, the feeling or message becomes muddled. You want them to be able to have a clear definition of your business in their mind as quickly as possible. "This is who they are and this is how they make me feel."
Walking into any business, whether you know it consciously or not, you're feeling what their word is. It might be "exclusive", it might be "high-end", it might be "casual" or "artistic", it might be any slew of other words. Your body will always feel it before your mind can explain it and you'll either resonate with it or you wont.
When I created my coffee shops I don't believe I thought about it this way. I definitely thought about the feelings and experience I wanted people to have but I never set a single, all-encompassing word to it and I wonder if I had maybe the brand would have been even stronger.
For the bar I created, The Gradient, my word was safety. There's so much nightlife out there that ignore the risks for women and lgbtq. So many establishments don't consider them as their main audience to begin with. My bar was a space made primarily for those groups and because of this developed an atmosphere of safety. It became understood that all types of people were welcome and discrimination of any kind would absolutely not be tolerated. And this is what manifested. The word spread that this was a safe space and people came for that reason and allowed themselves to relax and let their guard down. It was truly magical.
The point is, the highest intention that you place on your business or brand will become the overarching feeling that your customers experience. If it's authentic, people will resonate hard with it. You set this priority and then you build all the pieces of your brand and offerings to ensure it's in alignment with that priority. It's your north star and it's one of the most significant things you can do for your business. In every space you walk into, whether you can see it with your eyes or not, it's there and you're likely feeling it.
Take a moment and think about what your customers feel when they enter into your space, whether it's a website or a physical space. What's their first feeling? Is that what you intend? If not, then it's time to make adjustments. Pairing it down to one word helps make things more clear. There can always be additional feelings or intentions incorporated along the way.
Let me know your thoughts on this. What's your business' word!? What's the intention you serve your customers with? Is that being translated or is it getting muddled?
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